Katuki (Picrorhiza kurroa)

The Sanskrit term for "bitter" is katuki. This wonderful herb is heavily used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a member of the family Plantaginaceae. With more than 200 genera and 3000 species, this plant has an enormous family. In scientific terminology, katuki is referred to as Picrorhiza kurroa. This herb is perennial and grows a long rhizome. Its straight, somewhat curved characteristics measure 2.5 to 12 cm in length and 0.3 to 1 cm in thickness. Because of the root furrows and scars, katuki has a gritty exterior and a grayish-brown tint. The cortex of rhizomes contains one or two vascular bundles. The xylem and phloem are these vascular bundles. the rising rhizome tips in a bud that are encircled by a leaf crown. On the other hand, katuki leaves are present. These are 3-5 cm long and occur basally. Terminal spikes are present. With four to five corollas, the flower's calyx divides evenly into five sections. The flowers have a long flowering branch and are whitish with a mild blue tint. The flowers' corollas are bilobate, five mm long, and not as widely scattered. There are four stamens, which are slightly didynamous when inserted into the corolla. The pollen grains of flowers have a spherical form, a smooth or coarse corpus membrane, and a perforated or incomplete tectum. June to August is when the plant flowers. The plant's fruit resembles an acute capsule that is 12 mm long, tapering at the top, and has four valves that open. The plant produces a large amount of ellipsoid-shaped seeds. The seed coat is translucent and incredibly thick. The plant's roots are tubular and elongated, measuring 5 to 10 cm in length and 0.5 to 1 mm in diameter. These have a curved shape and are connected to rhizomes by longitudinal and dotted scars.

General Description

Rhizomes are present in the perennial herb Picrorhiza kurroa. The word "picorrhiza" is derived from Greek. "Picros" means bitter in Greek, and "Rhiza" means root, hence the word implies bitter root. The plant's primary label, KARU, is derived from the Punjabi language and signifies bitterness.

It is also known as Kutki, Katurohini, and other names in Ayurveda. According to the Charak Samhita, katuki has been used for therapeutic purposes for 5,000 years. This plant is also mentioned in Mustadi Ganae and Pipplayadi Gana by Sushruta Samhita. Numerous other old texts, like Rajnighantu, Nighantu Adarsha, Ashtang Samgraha, and Bhavaprakash Nighantu, also explain katuki. In Sanskrit, the word katuki is also understood to indicate bitter.

As a proven cooling agent, katuki aids in the body's removal of excess fire energy. Pitta and kapha, which can lead to issues with digestion, acidity, and fat, are balanced by it. Hence, aids in bettering the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs. Numerous issues, including obesity, sluggish metabolism, elevated urea level, creatinine, diabetes, heat, and hyperthyroidism, can be controlled with the modification of metabolic processes.

Katuki includes a number of significant phytochemicals that are very helpful in the treatment of illness. These include acetophenones, cucurbitacins, and iridoids. Picrosides I and II are the bioactive components of the iridoid glycosides molecule. These are referred to as the plant's primary active ingredients. Among them are cucurbitacin R, B, and D as well as triterpenes. One of the most significant chemicals is kutkin, which also contains iridoid glycosides such picrosides I, II, and III and kutkoside. Kutkoside and glycosides are found in a 1:2 ratio.

There are also a few trace amounts of phytochemicals there. These include cucurbitacin glycosides, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy acetophenone, pikuroside, phenol glycosides, and veronicosides. In addition, this plant includes monocyclic phenolic chemicals such as mannitol, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, picein, androsin, and drosin. It is well known that the catechol apocyanin has some anti-inflammatory qualities and can prevent neutrophil oxidative bursts.


  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Lamiales
  • Family - Plantaginaceae
  • Genus - Picrorhiza
  • Species - kurroa
  • Botanical name - Picrorhiza kurroa


The plant katuki grows in hilly terrain. Growing between 3,000 and 5000 meters high in the Himalayas, it thrives in rocky fissures, sloppy and cliffy mountains, and soil that has been enhanced with various organic materials. The Himalayan region, including Tibet, Tibet, west China, north Burma, Bhutan, and Sikkim, is home to katuki.

Names Of The Katuki

  • Latin name - Picrorhiza kurroa
  • Sanskrit name – Katumbhra, Thiktha, Ashokarohini, Arishta, Katuki, Katurohini, Katvi, Chaakrangi
  • English Name - Hellebore, Yellow gentian, Picrorrhiza, 
  • Hindi Name - Kutki, Katuka
  • Gujarati Name - Kadu, Katu
  • Bengali Name - Katki, Katuki
  • Malayalam name – Kadugurohini
  • Punjabi Name - Kaud, Karru, Kaundd
  • Telugu Name - Katuka Rohini
  • Marathi Name - Kali Katuki, Bala Kadu
  • Tamil Name - Katukarogini, Kadugurohini
  • Urdu name - Kutki
  • Arab and Farsi name – Kharabake
  • Oriya name – Katuki
  • Kannada name - Katuka rohini
  • Chinese name - Hu Huang Lian

Ayurvedic Properties


Hindi / Sanskrit


Rasa (Taste)



Guna (Physical Property)

Laghu, Ruksha

Light, Dry

Virya (Potency)



Vipaka (Post-Digestive Taste)



Effects On Doshas

It balances Kapha and Pitta.

Classical Categorization

Charaka Samhita


Sushrut Samhita

  • Tikta skandha – A group of herbs that taste bitter
  • Lekhaniya – A group of weight-losing plants that are scraped
  • Stanyasodhana – A group of plants that purify breast milk
  • Bhedaniya – A group of piercing and purgative herbs
  • Mustadi
  • Patoladi
  • Pippalyadi
  • Mustadi
  • Patoladi
  • Pippalyadi

Practical Uses Of Katuki

  • Digestive activity - Katuki is an effective remedy for intestinal issues. It strengthens the stomach, releases gastric secretions, and increases hunger. This herb stimulates vigorous bowel movements, which aids in the treatment of constipation.

  • Anti-diabetic activity - It has the ability to reduce blood urea nitrogen, serum lipid peroxides, and elevated blood glucose levels.

  • Anti-asthmatic activity - It helps in blocking allergens and PAF (platelet-activating factor), which is the agent that initiates bronchoconstriction. It aids in the treatment of asthma by blocking these molecules.

  • Anti-inflammatory activity - It helps in the management of inflammatory responses.

  • Immuno-modulator activity - This plant may be an immunomodulator since it helps regulate humoral reactions to red blood cells, hypersensitivity, and phagocytic activity.

  • Hypolipemic activity - The plant's water extract has the ability to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoproteins, aspartate transferase, and alanine transferase levels.

  • Hepatoprotective activity - Chemicals found in the plant, like kutkin, demonstrate liver-protective properties. It demonstrates the impact on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver damage brought on by different medications.

Parts Used

Root, Underground stem (rhizome)


  • In chronic fever - 3 to 4 grams.
  • Powder - 500mg to 1 gm


  • It should not be taken if you have diarrhea.
  • Avoid using it when dealing with minors.
  • Use it under medical supervision or avoid using it while pregnant.

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